Withycombe win the Devon Intermediate Cup

Withycombe are the Devon Intermediate Cup winners. Ref exsp 20 18TI 3322. Picture: Terry Ife

Withycombe are the Devon Intermediate Cup winners. Ref exsp 20 18TI 3322. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Withycombe lifted the Devon Intermediate Cup when they defeated Honiton beneath blue skies and before a large crowd at Raleigh Park.

Withy and Honiton had each won their respective home games in the Tribute Cornwall and Devon League season and a close contest was expected.

With the added spice of a ‘local derby’, the visiting side were well supported and the atmosphere was top notch throughout the afternoon.

Honiton played with the slope advantage in the first half, but what was clear was that there were no nerves in the home ranks and, eight minutes in, Withy centre Danny Sansom saw a gap and off-loaded to the supporting Liam Hilliar and the young back rower crossed the whitewash for the final’s opening score.

The conversion was missed, and the match turned into a game of chess for the next twenty minutes with Honiton powering forward, but being met by some resilient Withy defence. A penalty fired Honiton onto the score board, but it was soon Withy in the ascendency as fly half Glenn Channing lit the game up with a superb drop goal that dissected the posts to give his team an 8-3 advantage.

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Eight minutes later the lead became one of 15-3 when, after a string of phases were put together, Withy number eight Alex Taylor crossed and Channing slotted the conversion. Just before the break Honiton hit back to score a converted try and Withy trooped off at half-time holding a 15-10 lead.

Changes at the start of the second half saw Withy replace Max Cooke and Dave Thompson with Andrew Dudley and the evergreen Phil Sluman.

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However, throughout the second period, it was the back row for Withy that delivered the serious goods with Connor Gilby, Alex Taylor and Connor O’Shaughnessy forming a formidable defensive unit that offered little chance to Honiton to find a way back into the contest.

Withy, with the slope now in their favour, got on top and when, after persistent infringements, Honiton had a player sin binned, Withy made their extra man tell as they powered over for another try to make it 22-10.

With 10 minutes remaining, and following another dominant scrum, John Parkin launched a break that saw him off-load to Channing, who almost made his way through a gap that didn’t really exist in the first place! However, Channing managed to get the ball back to man of the match Parkin and he crossed for a try that was greeted with great celebration by the home faithful.

Plucky Honiton did manage the final say with the final try of the game, but Withy were not to be denied a special moment as the final whistle blew to signal their 29-15 win and they were able to lift the Devon Cup for the first time since the ‘Unbeaten Immortals of 1997’ had lifted the old trophy.

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